World Humanist Day is celebrated on June 21 every year. Also known as the day of the June solstice, June 21 is the day humanists around the world organize conferences, parties, and gatherings to promote their values. On World Humanist Day, humanists create awareness and dispel misinformation about humanism as a philosophical view and means to inspire a positive change in the world. Historians have traced the origin of humanism to the early years of the Renaissance period with scholars in Italy. Initially, it was primarily a literary movement, as early humanists believed that education could cultivate cultural consciousness and ethical values. Humanism evolved into a philosophical approach to life that is primarily concerned with how humans relate to the world, believe in ethical principles, and prioritize human welfare and happiness.
History of World Humanist Day
According to the “Encyclopedia Britannica,” humanism was originally called ‘humanitas’ — denoting the development of all forms of human virtue to its fullest extent. At its core, humanism is secular and democratic. It prioritizes the value of the human and promotes rational thinking over religious dogma. Humanism’s origins can be traced back to Italy in the late 14th century, during the Renaissance’s heyday. At its inception, humanism primarily focused on literary knowledge and linguistic skills and targeted the revival of classical learning techniques.
The movement further spread to other parts of Europe in the mid-15th century, and subsequently became a massive intellectual movement by the 16th century. The modern meaning of ‘humanism as an approach to life’ began in the mid-1800s when German historian Georg Voigt used the word to describe a humankind-centered philosophy. World Humanist Day began in the U.S. in the 1980s when the different local state chapters of the American Humanist Association (A.H.A.) came together. A discussion about the actual date to observe this yearly celebration followed. In the early 1990s, A.H.A. subsequently passed a resolution designating June 21 as World Humanist Day, and Humanists International also passed the same resolution.
Since then, the event has become a global event for humanists and other organizations to promote and publicize positive humanist values. To celebrate the day, humanists around the world organize and participate in seminars, workshops, and conferences. Since June 21 is the summer solstice, observers of World Humanist Day also participate in various outdoor events such as parties, picnics, and hangouts. World Humanist Day ceremonies essentially focus on publicizing humanism, educating the public, and improving awareness about the humanist movement. Humanists across different countries often adopt different themes and hold various events to mark the day, but the aim remains the same.
World Humanist Day timeline
Humanism begins in Italy during the Renaissance period.
Humanism extends to the rest of Europe.
German historian Georg Voigt describes ‘humanism’ as a humankind-centered philosophy.
Local state chapters of the American Humanist Association (A.H.A.) come together to celebrate World Humanist Day.
A.H.A. passes a resolution declaring June 21 as World Humanist Day.
World Humanist Day FAQs
What are humanists known for?
The early humanists of the Renaissance were intellectuals who focused on education. They founded schools and authored books to teach others about their ideas. Modern humanists emphasize the importance of logical thinking, justice, benevolence, compassion, prudence, and mercy.
What makes humanism unique?
Humanism is an approach to life-based on rational thinking and a conscious sense of common humanity. Humanists believe that practical moral values and ethical codes are based on human nature and experience and rational thinking alone.
Do humanists believe in God?
Humanists do not believe in the existence of a God who commands humans to have certain beliefs or to live in a certain way. Rather, they believe humans are capable of making choices and living by rational logic.
How to Observe World Humanist Day
Join the promotional campaigns
You can celebrate World Humanist Day by creating or joining official proclamations or promotional campaigns like lectures, workshops, and seminars. These are great mediums to educate people about the size of the secular community and the ethical values of humanists.
Make it fun
Humanist groups around the world mark World Humanist Day with various activities ranging from activism to parties. You may simply throw a party, organize a games day, or share a picnic outdoors in your local groups to celebrate your humanist community.
Raise funds for the movement
Another great way to celebrate this day is to raise funds and solicit donors for your local humanists’ group or other freethought groups. This emphasizes the global solidarity and values of humanism in the world.
5 Interesting Facts About Humanism
Humanists are in the millions worldwide
There are about five million self-acclaimed humanists worldwide.
The international symbol of humanism
Designed by Dennis Barrington, the ‘Happy Human’ was adopted as the international symbol of humanism in 1965.
Countries recognizing humanist weddings
Humanist weddings are legally recognized in Scotland, Northern Ireland, Jersey, and the Republic of Ireland.
Humanist weddings are on the rise
Despite not being legally recognized, recent statistics claim humanist weddings have increased by over 250% in the last 15 years.
Often confused with feminism
While feminism seeks better opportunities and justice for women, humanism is for all humans, focusing on science, critical thinking, liberty, and responsibility.
Why World Humanist Day is Important
Raising awareness about humanism
There is a myriad of myths and misconceptions about what humanism means. World Humanist Day offers an authentic platform to educate the global community and clear the air about the true meaning behind humanism.
Rallying support for humanism
World Humanist Day allows humanist groups around the world to speak about their views and invite others to join the movement. Instead of being viewed as ‘blasphemers’ or ‘infidels,’ humanists simply just want a better, kinder world for everyone.
Learning about the pioneers
Humanism has come a long way, but many erroneously think it’s a contemporary, rebellious movement. This day allows us to learn about the origin of the humanist movement and the ones who devoted their lives to the course.
World Humanist Day dates